The Greatest Evil In Our Society: Corruption

By James Torh


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
January 27, 2005

When one takes up time to visit Liberian websites to read news from back home, most if not all the headlines are about corruptions among our leaders from the Executive Mansion to Capitol Building. The first branch of government, the National Legislative Assembly is on record for calling for the suspension of its leadership for corrupt practices. It is disturbing, worrisome and shocking when the disease is corruption and the country is Liberia, a tiny country coming out of brutal civil war for over a decade.

These ugly symptoms are so deeply entrenched in our society that it has become a norms of every day life. Liberia has passed Cameroon, the world most corrupt country. The insatiable appetites of our officials of government are getting overdue attention. Our governance system is based on an “old boys’ network that puts high value on connections, loyalty and back scratching to unsavoury practices that routinely failed the critical sniff test of successive governments in our nations’ history. That is the trend for decades.

What is frustrating, disheartening and troubling is with the chronic shortage of basic services to the people-electricity, medical, clean water, food, transportation, education and the list go on, our head of state, Chairman Gyude Bryant is riding a bullet proof vehicle that cost a little over $366,000.00 USD. He has disappointed almost every Liberian by failing to impose discipline on himself and the administration. He destroyed his own morale and undermined our confidence in his leadership, not living to the spirit of his promise.

Recently, the Union of Liberian Associations in The Americas (ULAA) expressed disappointment in the Government of Chairman Bryant for its refusal to transport buses that were donated by City of Dayton in Ohio to the City of Monrovia to alleviate transportation shortage of Monrovians. This is an accurate picture of the Government’s insensitive to the plight of the people and indifference to their existence. Maybe Liberia is going back to stone age in our modern world where people will walk over 10 kilometres and miles to get to their destinations and with the complete collapse of basic services.

Without any link for guidance, corruption in Liberia rages on like a prairie fire from top to bottom with the cruel betrayal of the common people, the long suffering ones who can hardly afford the daily necessities. While our powerful Chairman Bryant and his followers are belching contentedly from good meals daily with expanding bellies and riding the best cars, many of our citizens cannot buy a cup of rice because the price of rice has gone up. How can Liberians be patient when in the midst of untold suffering, corruption is glaring and the Chairman and other officials display abominable opulence? How can the people bear patience when they are being manipulated as bargaining chips and humiliated while government officials educate their children in prestigious schools overseas with stolen monies?

The people have simply over-stretched their patience and goodwill, and have come to the end of walking the survival tightrope. Mr. Chairman, can you please call in your learnt economic advisor and comrade, one of the best in our time, according to him to task the statistics, fame the mathematics and repute economic analysis to work out how the average Liberian survives on a daily basis? The angels in heavens weep for the suffering Liberians. But please don’t forget that “a hungry man is an angry man”.

When those with most responsibility break the rules in their favour and mandarins bend to the will of their political overlords as the case of the government in Monrovia, then only the strongest can withstand the steady, acidic drip of corruption. We look forward to a decent government in Monrovia some days that will close the gap and will urgently reinforce those institutions brick by ethical bricks. Indeed, we hope that there will be a government in time to come with moral that will halt this silent war and projected pains that has consumed Liberia since its foundation. Indeed, we look forward in hope and wish that one day a decent and clean government that will see clearly enough to recognise the evil of corruption in its time and summon the will to challenge it, a government that will sense the fundamental realisation to foster an attitude of sympathy and generosity towards the poor to save our nation will take the helm of power in our dear country.

James Torh is in Toronto, Canada